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Prog Blog: City Of Ships Interview

Written by Mike Solo on July 16, 2012

American heavy rockers CITY OF SHIPS are heading to Australia for the first time in July and August, touring with post metal giants ROSETTA. Their sound is a blend of atmospheric grooves with frenetic metal riffs.

Eric Jernigan answered a few questions ahead of the tour.

Prog Blog: This is your first visit to Australia; what are you most looking forward to?

Eric Jernigan: Adventure. Every tour we do overflows with good times, but I have to admit that after countless laps around the US and three or four tours of Europe, things start to blur together. I’m excited to experience a place that until now I’ve only dreamed of visiting.

PB: You’re coming out here with Rosetta; tell us a bit about them and how the tour came about.

EJ: We met Rosetta on a US tour in 2007 and have spent every summer since either touring or playing spot dates together. The chemistry between our bands is really good, both personally and musically. We’ve joked that together we’re slowly undertaking a several-years-long world tour, so I guess this July and August we’ll tackle the Australian leg.

PB: City of Ships are a new prospect for many Australians; can you give us a bit of background on the band and where you’re coming from?

EJ: We’re a three-piece rock band, we write heavy riffs, and we sing from the heart. Members of the band live all over the United States so we trade ideas online and practice and write between tours as often as our bizarre lives allow.

PB: What can Australian fans expect from a City of Ships live show?

EJ: To get your money’s worth. We will sweat.

PB: In previous interviews you’ve mentioned a love of early 90’s alternative rock acts like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and even Green Day. How did this early influence translate into a heavy ambient metal sound?

EJ: 90’s alternative rock grew into a deep love of punk rock, which blossomed further into exploration of hardcore and metal on one end and angular indie bands on the other. And somehow these days all we wanna listen to is Steely Dan and Sun Kil Moon. Still trying to figure that leap out.

PB: You’ve toured extensively throughout the US and Europe; how do you continue to keep touring and recording viable as a band?

EJ: It’s an addiction. We are each plagued or blessed by a healthy sense of wanderlust, no doubt about it. Two of my top three re-occurring ‘this is bliss’ moments in life are: hearing a new City of Ships song taking shape in the rehearsal room and standing somewhere on the globe I never thought I’d be, trying to retrace the steps that lead me there.

PB: How do you choose where to play when heading out on tour? How do City of Ships tours vary between countries?

EJ: Like most bands that tour regularly, we have a good crew of experienced friends who are happy to advise us on the logistics of planning tours. For places like Australia and Europe, we’ve had agents do the leg work for us, so we trust that we’ll wind up where we ought to be. Usually we do.

PB:You’re releasing a split with Rosetta for this tour, featuring some excellent riff-heavy grooves. One thing I noticed is that the City of Ships tracks are relatively short (3-4 minutes) compared to the Rosetta 9-minute-plus tracks. Tell us a bit about the songs on this release and how it came together.

EJ: Our bands discuss the prospect of a split every time we play together, so we jumped on the opportunity presented by Birds Robe.  Each of us had out-of-print material lying around that we wanted available, and since both recordings come from the same era we thought it a logical match. The City of Ships tracks come from our 2nd studio sessions, a self-released Tour EP tracked in 2007.

PB: What’s going to be spinning in the tour van? Any Australian acts that pique your interest?

EJ: We listen to a lot of ambient music in the van like Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, and Tycho. That’s offset by marathons of Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple. Australian bands we’re excited to see on this tour are Nuclear Summer (of course!) and Heirs, although every time a new list of support bands is released we have someone telling us “They’re ace!” or whatever. I’m stoked to check out as many AUS bands as possible while we’re around. I caught My Disco when they were in the States with Young Widows a while back. Very cool band.

PB: What are your plans after this tour? Can we expect to see you in Australia again?

EJ: More US touring in the works for the fall and we’re trying to make it back to Europe again before long. We have loads of new demos in the works, so another album is slowly taking shape as well. If the good people organising the upcoming tour wanna have us back in Australia I can’t imagine we’d decline.

City of Ships tour Australia with Rosetta and Nuclear Summer in July. Tour dates here.

City of Ships/Rosetta split is out now through Bird’s Robe Records. Listen here.

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